So here comes the part you've all been waiting for!
Thanks for reading the first half of this post while eagerly anticipating the good stuff.
I had been in 7 weddings prior to my own and helped behind the scenes in a few others, so I had a pretty good idea of what things cost.
My experience helped us weed out what we knew wasn't, A) essential to our day or B) within our budget.
It also helped that we had our list of the 5 most important aspects of our wedding day.
Whenever we were having a hard time making a decision about whether or not to include something, we held it up against our 5 main desires.
If it went along with those, we included it and if it didn't, we scratched it.
Keep reading to see how we paid for our rehearsal dinner, wedding, and honeymoon for less than $10,000!
I've heard of people finding the dress of their dreams randomly at a thrift store and to them I say Congrats! That's so cool. However, with just 4.5 months to get everything together, I didn't feel like I had the time to peruse thrift stores hoping one fell in my lap! That was a time sensitive risk I wasn't willing to take. I ended up finding mine at David's Bridal. My mom and I went one afternoon just to get a feel for trying them on, not intending to buy at all. I told the girl helping us that I loved romantic dresses with tulle skirts. So that's what she brought me. It took about 4 dresses with flowy tulle skirts before she suggested I try on a dress she picked. I did and I didn't want to take it off. They called the dress "Old Hollywood" and I loved it. For the first time all day, I looked in the mirror and saw a bride, not a little girl playing dress up.
As mentioned in Part 1, all the jewelry I wore were piece from family members. I wore the same earrings my mom wore in her wedding, a special necklace from Matthew's mom, a ring from my great-grandmother, and bracelets from my Great-Aunt.
Another personal and intentional detail was having my friend Erin do my hair and makeup. I met Erin when she was a high school student and I was a Young Life leader. She's in college now and does makeup and hair as a little side business. This young lady has loads of natural talent! I knew she would do a great job and she absolutely did!
Matthew's suit was actually the same one he had worn for his best man Matt's wedding the previous summer! He did buy himself some brand new shoes and I'm glad because they sure are dapper!
Rehearsal Dinner: $819
We didn't know before having to plan the rehearsal dinner that renting out a space to do so would prove to be so difficult! This was one area we may have procrastinated on just a little. Our original plan was to have it at Litton's, Matthew's absolute favorite, but their back room couldn't accommodate our guest list of 47. After that, we had to go through quite a few places until landing on what ended up being the sweetest find, Naples Italian Restaurant. From the very first phone call, through the end of the dinner, the staff was very accommodating. The food was delicious, the environment was cozy, and everyone who attended had a fantastic time. Did I mention my grandfather made the invitations for us?! That was my favorite part!
One of the wedding details I had planned from the very beginning was who I wanted to use as our photographer. Rachel Webb was my Young Life leader in high school and if she hadn't helped me fall in love with YL, there would be no Matthew and Annie! Matthew and I had agreed early on in the planning process that a good photographer was worth investing in, because wedding photos last forever! If you pick Rachel to be your photographer, she lets you build your own package for the day. Your final price depends on how many hours you schedule, if you want her to take your engagement photos (we did), and she will even arrange to have a second photographer brought in. She's professional, relatable, and oh so talented! We HIGHLY recommend her! You can see her blog post of our photos here.
Our wedding was held at my Calvary Baptist Church in Knoxville. After researching venues, we came to realize our money would go further if we chose to hold the ceremony in the church. It's a beautiful setting on the river with a really unusual feature. There is an underground tunnel from the main building to the building on the other side of Kingston Pike! Guests were able to use the tunnel to get from the ceremony to the reception as opposed to fighting traffic trying to drive across the street. We paid the church for use of the building as well as for two staff members to be of help the day of.
The only paper goods we used for the wedding were the invitations. I found the template online for free and designed the rest of it myself. We used Overnight Prints to print them then I hand addressed every one. We used a wedding website to collect RSVP's which ended up being very convenient! We decided not to print programs and I was going to write out our ceremony timeline on a large chalkboard to place in the foyer of the church, but that was a detail that got dropped due to other priorities. I think everyone knows what happens in a wedding ceremony anyways! ;D
The wonderful Jana Hodge made my bouquet as well as the bridesmaids. She has a marvelous talent with flowers! Because she is so talented, Jana was able to create gorgeous bouquets while working within my small budget. We are very thankful for her! The bouquets turned out wonderfully. My Momma dried mine for me and I have it on display in our house.
Having been in so many weddings, I know that being in someone's wedding requires so much more than just standing up front during the ceremony. We wanted to be sure we showed our great respect for these set apart friends by not asking too much of them. The guys were asked to wear a navy suit of their choice with brown leather shoes, also of their choosing, and Matthew picked out a specific navy tie. The girls were asked to wear a dress in the "light beige" family. Their dresses, with different patterns and textures, created a lovely look the day of. In an effort to help our friends be as comfortable as possible that day, everyone got to style themselves. All our friends have unique personalities and it was important to us to let everyone be themselves that day. This also freed people up to spend within their own budget. All friends within the wedding party got to decide for themselves how much to pay for suit, shoes, dress, and accessories.
The exact cost for the rings, license, gifts for other friends who helped out, officiant cost, and marriage license are also included in the overall ceremony cost.
Reception: $982 (125 est. guests)
I love a wedding reception, don't you?! We held our reception in the student building of the church. It's a gorgeous area with exposed brick walls and giant wooden beams across the ceiling. My Momma, Mother-in-law, and bridesmaids did a lot of hard work to get it looking exactly as I imagined. Lucky for us, and I do mean lucky, the church already owned all kinds of wedding decorations. Lanterns, wreaths, candles, tea lights, table clothes, vases, frames, chalkboards, you name it, they had it. This save us a good deal of money and time. I am very, very grateful that we were able to use their pretty things. We used circular wooden centerpieces, lanterns or birdcages, mercury glass votives, and magnolia leaves to decorate the tables. It was just the natural look I had been hoping for!
Now, let's talk cake. Y'all, never have I ever had a cake that was so delicious. My parent's friends recommend Lisa Kear to us after she did the cakes for their daughter's weddings. She has a wonderful personality and was so fun to work with! Our cake was vanilla with strawberry jam filling and buttercream icing. And get this: it was dairy free! Can you believe it?! I may be bias, but it was seriously the best cake I have ever had. The cherry on top was that she was very reasonably priced. If you need a cake of any kind, call her today!
Since we had an early afternoon wedding, we didn't host a sit down dinner, but opted for finger foods instead. B+G Catering of Knoxville brought all kinds of delicious treats and their service was simply wonderful. We didn't get to eat much other than the cake, but we did hear wonderful things about the food and especially the lemonade punch they served! Also, I've got to mention the brownie tower that my Momma created for us to serve as the Groom's Cake. Y'all, she is a creative genius! It was so cute and well executed!
We did not hire a DJ for the reception. Instead, Matthew worked hard to create a playlist to set the mood of romance and comfort. It included many of our favorite songs, mostly oldies, and we were shocked to get many compliments on throughout the afternoon.
While planning the wedding, we had so looked forward to the reception. To have most all of the people we love in one place, enjoying one another and celebrating with us, felt almost too good to be true. It was truly the best day of our lives.
Matthew Darling had the task of planning the honeymoon all to himself and he did a phenomenal job! We spent 5 days at the Henderson Park Inn in Destin, Florida. The Inn is located next door to the 208 acre state park which gave us the feeling that we were somewhere secluded. From the treats received upon arrival, to the pristine beachfront, to the picnic lunches provided in the afternoons, everything was perfect! If you happen to be planning a romantic getaway, we highly recommend it. An added bonus was that the manager is a UT grad! No wonder it was such a fantastic establishment!
Plenty of people warned me that most of your wedding day is forgotten and much of it has already become cloudy in my mind.
But some moments I hope to never lose.
Like taking my dad's arm right before walking down the aisle and hearing him tell me I looked beautiful.
My mom's expression as we walked towards the front of the church.
The tears that silently ran down Matthew's face during the ceremony.
The sweet moments we had to ourselves between the ceremony and the reception.
Being surrounded by my best friends all day.
Amy, my mother-in-law, fastening the necklace with a diamond from her mother around my neck.
And Matthew frantically having to squeeze a slightly too small ring off the wrong finger at the beginning of the reception! I guess in my excitement I forgot which hand was his left!
At the end of the day, however much money was spent, however many guests attended, however many slices of cake eaten, we were husband and wife.
And because of that, it was the very best day.